Maternity Leave on a Budget: 10 Things for New Moms To Do for $10 or Less

Hi mamas! This post about maternity leave on a budget is so timely for summertime in the Valley, and since we recently met a bunch of new moms at Mom’s On The Move, we thought we’d make a few updates and re-publish it today. If you have a new-mom friend you think would love it, would you consider sharing? And if you heard us speak at the hospital, say hello in the comments! -Sarah

Maternity Leave on a Budget

Two things are true when you are adjusting to life as a new mom: one, staying at home with a newborn (whether you’re on leave or planning to stay home indefinitely) can feel very. Very. VERY. isolating; and two, getting out of the house can seem very. Very. VERY. overwhelming. When it’s 115° outside, these two things are even more true because a simple walk around the block is nearly impossible (unless you go at 5am, which, come to think about it, why wouldn’t you? you’re up anyway, right? KIDDING.).

If staying home is hard and getting out sometimes seems harder, being on a budget complicates things even further. It’s tempting to stroll the aisles of Target picking up a few things you need and a few dozen things you don’t, but after you’ve done this a few times it starts to add up (you know it’s scientifically proven that it’s impossible to spend less than $100 at Target, right?).

So what’s a new mom to do? You can’t stay in your PJs for three months and you have to choose your outings wisely, without breaking the bank. Some of the ideas below are great to do with a new-mommy-friend (that is a friend who is also a new mommy, or even better, a new friend who is also a new mommy), and a few others are good ways to meet other moms in your same situation.

1. Invite someone over. 

I know, it sounds stressful, but stay with me. I always found that being forced to spruce up the house a little in preparation for visitors actually made me feel better about my day. If you’re the type who typically throws elaborate, Pinterest-inspired soirees for all your friends, you may want to scale back your expectations – we’re talking simple here. Invite a couple of new mom-friends over for a play date, or ask a co-worker from your pre-baby job to stop by on her lunch break. You get the benefit of having some adult conversation to look forward to without ever leaving your house – and I bet you’ll feel better having picked up all the scattered burp cloths and breast pump parts too. ;)

2. Try out a {free} class. 

There are a TON of mommy-and-me classes out there, and none of them are cheap. Cost was a major factor for me after having my first baby, and we didn’t sign up for any classes until she was about nine months old (and even then it was gifted to us for Christmas). But this isn’t to say you can’t sign up for a free trial class, which many organizations offer. Getting out of the house to try a class with your baby will get you thinking about what kinds of activities you are interested in, how to plan them into your budget, and you may get a chance to connect with another new mom or two. A couple of classes that I’ve personally tried are Music Together and Stroller Strides.

3. Go to the movies! 

This is maybe the most genius idea EVER. Ultrastar Movies hosts Parent Movie Mornings at their UltraStar Cinemas location (101 and Indian Bend). They show a grown-up movie (not a kids movie) and you bring your baby along. They feature valet stroller parking, reduced volume, dim theater lighting with changing stations inside the theater, and the go right out and say that “crying, feeding and diaper changing are expected” during the show. Oh, and the price? $5. FIVE BUCKS, ladies.

4. Walk the mall.

So I realize that spending $10 or less and walking through Fashion Square or PV Mall don’t sound like they go together, but I think if you plan ahead, they can. Make a date of it and go with a new-mom friend. Eat lunch ahead of time so you’re not starving, and leave your credit card at home if you have to. Or go solo and make it a game with yourself – maybe you window-shop for Christmas gift ideas and see if you can complete your whole list, or maybe you take pictures with your cell phone of the outfits you want to wear after you lose the baby weight. You could even arrange a phone-date with a faraway friend and just chat and stroll your way through the mall. The benefits of mall walking? Exercize for you, a guaranteed stroller nap for baby (with plenty of places to change and feed if necessary), and ooooooohhhh, that cool A/C!

5. Attend a parenting group.

The Valley has several great parenting groups that exist to help you meet other moms and learn about babies and child development. We have listed a few groups on this page {let us know if we’ve missed any!} and you might find more through your church or community center where you live. Some parenting groups have annual dues, but many have an introductory deal or trial period for new moms {translation: it’s FREE when you’re new}. I never tried a dues-based group, but I did attend Mom’s on the Move, the free weekly support group at Scottsdale Healthcare, and with the friends I met there we ended up forming a weekly playgroup of our own that still meets – four years later! :)

6. Visit the library.

I can’t believe I didn’t check out the free programs at my local library until my firstborn was almost a year old. First of all, FREE. Second of all, AIR-CONDITIONED. Scottsdale Public Library has several programs for parents and babies, and it’s a great place to meet other moms. Shake, Rattle & Roll, Story Stop, and Stay & Play are three perfect starts for new moms with young babies.

7. Organize a moms-only happy hour.

Once you’ve connected with a few new moms through local groups and library storytimes, why not get out of the house without the babies and get to know each other beyond stroller models and feeding schedules? So many local restaurants feature summertime happy hour specials, and a glass of wine and a shared appetizer are not going to set you back more than $10 or so if you do your homework ahead of time. {Plus, how cute is it to leave daddy home with baby and know they’re getting some one-on-one time?}

8. Go for a drive(thru).

I’ve shared my love for drive-through conveniences in a previous post (you can read it here). For $10 or less you can pick up a Starbucks, drop off your dry cleaning, and pick up that library book you reserved online – all while listening to great music while baby sleeps the car seat! Extra Credit: Enlist a new friend to come with you – you’ll have to transfer a car seat to all get in the same car, but once you do, it’s naptime for babies and uninterrupted chatting-time for moms. With Starbucks. And A/C.

9. Check out free swim lessons!

Hubbard Family Swim School offer FREE swim classes for babies up to six months old and their caregivers. What’s not to like about that? You can read about their programs here.

10. Visit the Children’s Museum of Phoenix.

Okay, I cheated. The cost to visit the Children’s Museum is $11 per person (babies under 1 are free). However, I wish I had known how baby-friendly the museum is when I was a new mom. Every room has a baby play area, and there is an entire (big, beautiful, usually pretty empty) room dedicated to babies and toddlers (think educational toys and books, tummy time opportunities, very clean and well-designed). Lots of comfortable seating for moms, a cafe (bring your lunch and you stick to budget!), and places to feed and change baby. This would be a fun outing with a new friend, or a place to meet a friend who has older kids.

What other ideas can you add to this list? How do you balance the need to get out and connect with other moms with the limitations of budget and summer heat? Share your ideas in the comments below!

About Sarah Powers

Sarah Powers is a freelance writer, sporadic blogger, and mom of three who lives in Southern California. She serves as Managing Editor for The Happiest Home (a Babble Top 100 Mom Blog), and has been published in Raising Arizona Kids magazine and online at The Huffington Post and Babble. Sarah loves high ponytails, Broadway showtunes, and using her kids as an excuse to stay in and go to bed early, which she would do anyway. You can find Sarah on Twitter, Instagram, and at her blog, Powers of Mine.

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7 Responses to Maternity Leave on a Budget: 10 Things for New Moms To Do for $10 or Less

  1. Katherine July 12, 2012 at 9:08 am #

    Great list! Another good one is the free swimming lessons for babies under 6 months at Hubbard Swim School.

    • Sarah July 12, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

      Thank you, Katherine! I wasn’t aware of this – such a great deal! :)

  2. Litiquette Boutique July 23, 2012 at 9:28 am #

    Very good ideas! Also a mom can go to a local playground or park for kids, where she can find a shady spot to avoid summer heat, and chit chat with other moms.

  3. Rebecca Hubanks June 9, 2014 at 3:09 pm #

    Love this!

  4. Janis Kahldon June 10, 2014 at 10:21 am #

    Thank you for the information and tips. I greatly appreciate it! I am a stay at home mom and we are definitely on a budget.

    • Sarah Powers June 10, 2014 at 10:31 am #

      I’m so glad this was helpful, Janis! Hang in there! :)

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